Percy Gray Watercolor, ca. 1930

Value (2013) | $20,000 Auction$30,000 Auction

This painting was a gift to my wife's mother and father in 1938. I know it's done by a California artist or an artist who painted in California, Percy Gray, who I understand was a plein air painter in part of a school or a group of artists that moved to the Carmel Valley or somewhere in that part of California and painted. My wife received it from her mother and father when they died, and she was reading their wedding gift registry and we came across this item, the painting, being given in 1938.

It's a lovely piece, and Percy Gray certainly is a California painter. I think the two important things to keep in mind with Percy Gray is that he took training from William Merritt Chase, one of the most important of the American impressionists, and the other thing is that he spent years as a newspaper illustrator.


And during that time, as you would imagine back then, you would have to get things down quickly and you'd have to get them down accurately. You would need a real spontaneity to your work in order to be a successful newspaper illustrator. Percy Gray worked for a very long time and was very prolific in a very similar style, so from the teens to 1950, he's doing the same work. You said it was a gift in '38. This could well be a work from '38, but it could just as well have been done in '28.


So this work, like much of Percy Gray's most famous works, was done in California: these sort of rolling green hills and oaks with the California wildflowers. This is the quintessential Percy Gray. In real estate, we talk about location, location, location. For watercolors, it's condition, condition, condition. And in this case, it's in really spectacular shape.


And in particular, what we're focusing on is saturation and color, and the blues and the yellows are really vibrant, as well as the greens, which are really dark and saturated. It's a cloudy day, and he liked to paint in that kind of situation. Now, because of the condition and specifically because of that saturation, I would say at auction right now, it's worth on the order of $20,000 to $30,000.

Wow, that's terrific. Awesome.

The other interesting thing about this is that it's still in its original frame. It's a wonderful presentation. Usually at this point, they're long gone.

Well, thanks so much.

You're welcome. Thanks so much for bring it in.

Good deal.

Appraisal Details

Bonhams, San Francisco
San Francisco, CA
Appraised value (2013)
$20,000 Auction$30,000 Auction
Boise, ID (June 29, 2013)
20th Century
May 19, 2014: In this segment appraiser Aaron Bastian examines a watercolor by artist Percy Gray that was thought to be a landscape of Carmel Valley, California. After this episode's broadcast a viewer wrote in to say that the landscape is indeed Carmel Valley and, more specifically, Saddle Mountain.

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